25 C's of Innovation
It is well known that most people would rather receive information in beautifully wrapped packages that help them ‘contain’ the message in a simpler way by connecting the info with a tool that allows them to access it when needed. Such is the value of a reliable acronym, reference or letter bundle that offers a welcome bridge over what might otherwise feel like a sea of unweildy or unpackaged information.
Maybe we were taught to do this in primary school or maybe the method is really useful to retain data more easily. The fact is that acronyms and letter bundles came to stay in the teaching/learning process, and we have many of them rolling in our minds since long ago.
Maybe you are thinking in the famous 4 P’s of marketing right now!
One of the strongest examples of a letter bundle is precisely the 4 P’s of Marketing that E J McCarthy popularized in 1960 for the marketing mix, and which has been widely accepted by academics and practitioners around the world ever since.
The 4 P’s of Marketing were later changed to 4 C’s because Bob Lauterborn, professor of advertising at the University of North Carolina, thought the C was a better way to think about a marketing mindset. He dared to propose his new approach to the marketing mix, but stayed within the letter packages information-delivery method. Which is my point for this occasion.
4 P’s of Marketing, 4 C’s of Marketing, 7 P’s of Service Marketing, 5 S’s of Kaizen in Continuous Improvement, 5 C’s of Business Credit or any discipline you might be interested in may have a letter bundle like these mentioned. Who knows? Maybe we really think we are more intelligent every time we memorize a set of letters to describe a concept.
Just to keep the tradition, I want to point out that Innovation has its letters bundle too. And it’s actually the addition of all the numbers above.
Easier to remember or not, maybe funnier or as annoying as it can be, any Innovation attempt (if it is truly be become a repeatable process within your company) has 25 C’s to consider in the way:
1. Commitment to innovation. Companies have to take innovation seriously as a means for growth. We all know how nowadays this is imperative if wanted to remain competitive (competitive, another C!). The best way to demonstrate a commitment to innovation is to capitalize it. Without some dedicated funding, an innovation effort will not last.
2. Connections. Within the company, identify the people with the best attitude and most passion for innovating and give them a voice and a role. Ensure diverse teams by including participants with varied background, abilities, age and responsibilities as well as hierarchy should be connected to create a richer environment for the ideation phase. It’s clear thatopenness is a great attitude towards innovation.
2.1 Considering our technology served society, the word connection has a double input here; connectivity is a useful and valuable resource to increase the results of an innovation attempt that should be always leveraged. I mean remote connectivity through internet systems and mobility devices like tablets and smartphones.
3. Clarification. Make clear for everybody what innovation is and what is the objective of the particular session is, and what the roles and process for moving forward is going to be. That will save a lot of time later.
4. Comfort. Build a proper environment in which participants feel comfortable, confident and free to participate without further negative consequences.
4.1 Another tricky word: At the same time innovation leaders must challenge convention and push teams out of their usual comfort zone (professionally speaking) when immersed in the process so they can come up with better ideas.
5. Coordinate. It is necessary that one member of the team coordinates the innovation process to keep the efforts aligned and order during the stages.
6. Collaboration. Innovation is a game of collaboration. Always remember to reinforce each member of the innovation team through collaboration.
7. Creativity must be fostered. There are many ways to do it. (1)
8. Catalyze ideas and show you value them through instilling a transparent idea management process. The rest of the “C’s” demonstrate an idea management process.
9. Control the flow and real work on ideas, by setting some rules to keep the propositions feasible…and using an idea management system. Today this is often a software platform, or can be an explicit protocol for developing ideas that teams receive training on and whose steps are broadly communicated.
10. Capital Investment. There are hard and soft costs to the overall business to develop ideas into testable concepts. Make sure this is covered up front.
11. Focus on the Contribution to the business’s bottom line or IP or processes to generate value. This requires building a business case for ideas you want to concretize and turn into testable concepts.
12. Concretize the ideas to a specific definition, often through a written and visual concept, and…
13. Compare those who are a better match to the objective defined previously — there are many ways to evaluate ideas. Make sure you have criteria that are agreed upon.
14. Categorize those ideas falling under your core activities –more likely to pursue- and those falling under capabilities not developed by the company because you don’t want to waste a good idea even if your company can’t pursue it in the short term.
15. Communicate the ideas chosen as the best ones, to the leadership and board of the company and…
16. Capitalize. An Investment of capital is required to develop an idea so that it can become a market or category innovation. Convince them to invest in the selected ones some [Capital] to start the…
17. Conception of the prototyping; do it, try it, test it. Then…
18. Correct what goes wrong and…
19. Change what needs to be improved and with all the knowledge gotten…
20. Create a customer facing test for the innovation. Here you develop what has just been worked on
These twenty C’s are always present in innovation challenges when running them as solid projects (isolated). This is once the decision of pursuing an innovation has been done. After the creation C, I am taking for granted putting the innovation in the market as a following activity, which often falls more in the marketing department.
Additionally, there are the next 5 C’s that belong to any company’s strategy if the intention is to be an innovative organisation capable to repeatedly innovate for growth and renewal.
21. Codify the process. Map it, define it, solidify it, and repeat it to gain.
22. Continuity, which allows you to take improvements as needed to make a [Consistent] machinery for innovation, more agile and in a smoother way.
23. Cohesion is the aim. Because this brings more velocity to the idea-to-market process and a more effective capacity of reaction to market demands.
24. Coaching is necessary to bring in latest tools, methodologies and facilitation for the process. It keeps the spirit high and the sensation of gaining progress during the complex road of innovation. New and fresh faces help to keep the improvement constant and to introduce different mindsets to the teams. Finally is always very valuable to keep…
25. Capabality-building. For innovation to become a core competence, a lasting engine of value creation, the organization must view it as a long term capability to be built and invest in and practice it.
There are more details, more steps and more C’s to be added, but I found these verbs and concepts as the basic aspects to bear in mind when innovating. I consider amusing how such a complex process –innovating- can be pretty well defined using solely the letter C.
I promise to come back with a shorter letters bundle containing the 7 P’s of Innovation soon.
 See “Seizing the white space” by Mark Johnson
image credit: tiffany.com
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Cesar Malacon has broad business experience in commercial strategies and account management. A Management Consultant in Uzbekistan, he has also worked in Singapore, UK and Mexico. His areas of focus are B2B & B2C, Marketing and Strategy, Business Model Innovation, Market development, Product Development, Innovation, Market Entrance, CRM, Change and Project Management.
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